IMO, you can't go wrong with Jack Johnson's "On and On". Good music and well recorded.
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For pure folk, there are:
1. Bill Staines' "The Journey Home" ... a covers album of 60's era classic folk
2. Joan Baez' "Any Day Now" ... a covers album of Dylan songs that has been recently remastered
1. If you include Dylan in this category, the SACD hybrid versions of "Blood on the Tracks" and "Nashville Syline" would qualify.
2. The Grass Roots' "Where Were You When I Needed You," the original group headed up by P.F. Sloan ("Eve of Destruction" fame), before the name was used by the 60's pop group.
3. Crosby Stills Nash & Young "4 Way Street." I always owned a Japanese import CD and the sonics were pretty good. I do not how the US remastered version sounds.
There are others. As they come to mind ...
As a fifteen year plus volunteer at a weekly coffeehouse in Dallas where we feature accoustic singer songwriters, I believe there are hundreds of unknown (to the general public) performers. They are mostly all on unknown labels and often on their own label. My cd collection is 98% this type of music. I find it strange that folks will spend 50, 75 or more to cram into a big areana to see some one perform andbe blasted by an accessively loud and poor sounding system, but they won't go pay 12 to see someone of equal talent in a small venue with excellent sound (ok I'm the sound guy, but there are many similar venues around the country). Check out our web site at www.unclecalvins.org and then go to past shows and/or past musicians to see a listing of performers who have played there. Most all hwve links to their web sites and usually you can get a sample of their music. Another site of note is cdbaby where many independent artists have their product.
Some of my favorites are Hans Theesink, Carrie Newcomer, Tom Russell, John Prine, Trout Fishing in America, Greg Brown, Brooks Williams, Chris Smither, and on and on. This coming Friday we're hosting Steve Young, who wrote Seven Bridges Road (the Eagles did pretty well with that song), Montgomery in the Rain, and my favorite Angel of Leon, which he co-wrote with Tom Russell.
Check out some new stuff and enjoy.
I've been very impressed and somewhat surprised by the exceptional recording quality of the majority of the British folkies from the '60's and early '70's that I enjoy listening too. Try checking into recordings by Davy Graham, Wizz Jones (esp. 'Right Now'), Bert Jansch (and the group he performed in, Pentangle)and Mike Cooper, to name a few. Davy Graham is one of the most eclectic of the batch and a personal favorite...not to mention very nicely recorded.
Second some from Tom Russell. I'm not familiar with all his work but I have and really like "The Man From God Know's Where" and "Modern Art," very well recorded and good tunes, but "Hotwalker," while very interesting and a good listen, is more of a spoken word narrative that you would not listen to very often. Worth a listen but borrow a copy or buy it used.
John Prine's albums are usually very well recorded. The early stuff on vinyl is very good too.
David Grisman and Jerry Garcia put out a series of folk/blugrass/country/old time music albums that are very good.
We showed you ours now you show us yours Canuck.
Doc Watson. Let me repeat that, Doc Watson. Everything I have is on vinyl but some of the finest music ever recorded and some are very high fidelity. The finest flat picker on the planet and compelling vocals. Buy all that you can find.
Guy Clark is usually listed in the country section but I would call him a singer/songwriter in the folk tradition. A true genius with the pen and a great performer. Start with "Boats to Build" for great songs and sonics. His duets with Emmylou Harris are mesmerizing, most duets with her are. One of my favorite albums of all time.
Townes Van Zandt, maybe not show off your stereo fidelity but great, great music. The 4 CD set "Texas Troubador" has 8 of his albums and pretty much covers his best work.
Ones that I've been impressed with musically and sonically recently include:
Dave Alvin's Ashgrove and his earlier Blackjack David
Katy Moffat's Angel Town and Loose Diamond CDs
Gillian Welch's Soul Journey
Lucinda Williams new Live @ The Fillmore is very good for a live recording
And, I agree, Tom Russell's recent CDs are excellent.
Here is another vote for Tom Russell. When I describe his style to others I tell them to think "Harry Chapin with a Southwest motif". My nomination for his best sound and overall performance would be "Borderland". In fact, I burned a compilation of Borderland and Modern Art (four tracks)and gave it to my local hi-end dealer. They were so blown away they now use it to demo their showcase system (Wilson Grand Slams, VTL Siegfried mono blocks, and of course, a dcs stack).
I have a couple of Original pressings by Gordon Lightfoot that sound really good(Sundown,If you could read my mind). Also Jim Croce's Greatest Hits a DCC 180 gram re-master sounds superb.My original pressings of The Band hold up pretty good these days except the brown album "The Band" because I played it to death.
If you can find original pressings of the first 3 Peter, Paul, and Mary albums on Warner Brothers with the gold label (later pressings are green) you'll be amazed at the clarity and dynamics. I'm not saying I'm that old but I've been told this is true. :-)
The second (Turn, Turn, Turn) and fourth (Younger Than Yesterday) Byrds albums can also be very very good.
Canucks: After all of the responses you received, I'm surprised you haven't felt a need to respond? I'd like to read some of your favorites! This is or should be as give and take effort.
I'll give a few:
(1) John Moreland "In The Throes"
(2) Peter Case "Bee Line", "The Man With The Blue..."
(3) The Be Good Tanyas, "Blue Train"
(4) Bill Callahan "Dream River", "Apocalypse"
(5) Richard Thompson "Pour Down Like Silver"!!!
(6) John Wesley Harding "New Deal"
(7) Tift Merritt "Traveling Alone"
(8) Pieta Brown "One And All"
I'm with Rcprince in the Byrds being a favorite. I bought some super-deal 5 CD set of their top albums on Amazon, but the sound quality really sucked. Are there any good remasters of Byrds albums?
If you like those harmonies and format,the Roches (three sisters) are spectacular, but occasionally quirky. They have that harmonic blend that only siblings like the Everly Brothers or the Andrew Sisters had, and are Greenwich Village urban folk (literally and aurally.) Either Moonswept or "The Roches" are good intros.
I hadn't thought of The Everly Brothers as Folk-Rock, but their 50's and 60's recordings feature great sound. I have the British Ace label reissue and collection LP's, which sound better than the Rhino LP's. Great, great music. They had the best songwriters and studio musicians of the time, and greatly influenced Lennon & McCartney, whose vocal harmonies were merely exact copies of the Brothers'.
Can't vouch for CD versions of these as I only have them on vinyl. But if the sound quality on vinyl is any indication, one of my all-time favorites is Phoebe Snow's self titled album. Recorded and produced by the great Phil Ramone, I love this record when I am in the mood for this sort of thing. Two others that I am surprised haven't been mentioned are Cat Stevens "Tea For The Tillerman" and Tracy Chapman's debut album; both were often cited for good sound qualityp and are considered musical classics. Lastly, if you're going to go down the "folk music/good sound" road, as an audiophile, on principle alone and for better or worse, you should have The Weavers "At Carnegie Hall". I think I'm showing my age 😊
Slaw, I agree with you; it's always a little frustrating when the OP disappears. That's why I am sure you will follow up in your "song structure" thread 😉
Although I'd characterize the sound as ok rather than especially good, I'll nevertheless mention The New Christy Minstrels "Greatest Hits" CD. Very likable music, IMO, including their best known hits from the 1960's such as "Today" and "Green, Green."
Regarding the comments about lack of follow-up by the OP, I'm not sure that everyone has noticed that his post was from 2005.